Rondine Corvette to be auctioned
It will be one of the stars of the January auction held by Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale, Arizona. It’s a Corvette – and there are always lots of Corvettes at Barrett-Jackson – but this is a one of a kind Corvette. It was styled and bodied by Pininfarina.
It was built by Pininfarina in 1963 and displayed at the Paris Auto Show. The motivation was the introduction, in 1963, of the then-advanced Sting Ray chassis, complete with independent rear suspension. Moreover, because the body of that car was fiberglass, the platform could be rebodied to another style with relative ease.
The car is less significant as a Corvette than as a Fiat, however. Even a casual glance at the Rondine Corvette shows the styling elements that later became the Fiat 124 Spyder, one of the most attractive cars every styled by Pininfarina for mass production.
Though it displayed the car, Pininfarina did not sell it. The car has remained in their hands, until now – or, at least, until next January.
Craig Jackson, the CEO and moving force at Barrett-Jackson cautiously declined to give an estimated auction value for the car, other than to peg its value at “lots.” However, it is obviously going to be one of the headliners of the Scottsdale auction.
In the last five to ten years, the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction has emerged as unique. It is one of the major auctions starting the new auction season. However, through a combination of promotion of the auction and an accommodation of high rollers that would make Steve Wynn of Las Vegas envious, Barrett-Jackson has also established itself as the auction in which very wealthy people pay extraordinary amounts of money for cars that would not sell anywhere else at anything like the price for which they’re sold at that one auction.
Part of that mystique has centered around Barrett-Jackson’s efforts, of late, to attract unique Detroit dream cars and similar one of a kind models. It established auction records with both the Oldsmobile F-88 Motorama car and one of the GM Century of Progress transport vehicles, and has also sold other Chrysler and GM show cars.
Whether this car will do as well, however, remains to be seen. It is, in essence, a rebodied Corvette. The interior is basically stock Corvette. The body is dated in appearance, though historically interesting. Plus, it has an impeccable provenance, coming directly from Pininfarina. And, of course, Corvette collectors can be fanatics. Then there’s the atmosphere at Barrett-Jackson, one that leads otherwise sane appearing people to bid five times sticker price for a Mustang merely because Carroll Shelby is going to give the buyer his hat.
Craig Barrett, however, revealed a lot when he said that the price of the car would be determined by “two bidders.” He is clearly hoping that there are two people who believe they must have this car. That is how the past Barrett-Jackson auction records have been set: the record-setting F-88 purchase was funded by a Microsoft founder who seems to have turned over an unlimited budget to a minion.
January will see the renewed test of the greater fool theory.